Pat Gillick, general manager of your Philadelphia Phillies, publicly downplayed Pat Burrell’s contribution to the 2006 campaign the other day:
“We know that at this point, Pat has had a difficult time protecting [Ryan] Howard. We’re going to have to continue to have to make an adjustment in that area.”
OK, so according to Mr. Gillick, Pat had trouble hitting behind one of the best hitters in the league this year. For Burrell’s part, he actually had quite a decent year, especially compared to other left fielders out there. I’m not sure what people expect out of him or the imaginary player he’s being compared to, but he got on base a lot, flashed some good power, and did fairly well the entire year despite playing with a hurt foot and an iffy wrist. Jonk over at the Good Phight broke down Burrell’s ‘decline’ from 2005 to 2006, and basically noted that Burrell did great in the supposed ‘clutch’ numbers in 2005 and bad in 2006. Expect these numbers to bounce back to the norm, simply because that’s just what they do. They differ from year to year. Last year Albert Pujols struggled in those spots; this year he excelled in them.
Gillick also said that they ‘need to look for more offense’. This despite the Phillies scoring the 4th most runs in the Major Leagues and the most in the National League. The Phils also scored the 2nd most runs in the Majors after the all-star break, and 36 more runs than the 2nd best team in the NL. But who’s counting?
And even if we need some more offense, why upgrade left field? Why not third base? We had just about the worst offensive combo in David Bell and Abraham Nunez manning the hot corner over the past year. We could upgrade our offense there for a much lower cost. Instead of looking for a trade partner for Pat’s contract, we could buy low with several third basemen out there, or go young and deal for an up-and-comer. Either way, we save money and we don’t downgrade our already downgraded outfield.
And yes, our outfield is not that great. Aaron Rowand is not a very good offensive player. Shane Victorino would make a decent value at CF for a low price, but move him to RF and his value goes way down. And forget about Jeff Conine…he was last good three years ago. I like Michael Bourn if he is able to hit 300 with good on-base numbers, but his complete lack of power is troubling. And Chris Roberson? Meh.
What’s my point? I have two:
1. Pat Burrell is not as bad as people think. We will also be a worse ballclub if we trade him, especially our outfield.
2. Gillick should not downplay our players in public. Doing so just hurts the value of guys we are planning on dealing, which is apparently what we’re trying to do with Burrell.